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Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology
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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 40  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 15-20

Selective cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 inhibitors as anticancer drugs: Moving beyond hormone receptor-positive breast cancer

Department of Medical Oncology, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Tamojit Chaudhuri
Room No: 207, PG Hostel for Men, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bengaluru - 560 029, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijmpo.ijmpo_87_18

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The cyclin D-cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 4/6 pathway controls the cell cycle machinery by regulating the G1-to-S-phase transition. Dysregulation of this pathway, resulting in increased cellular proliferation, is frequently observed in a variety of human cancers. Activation of cyclin D-CDK 4/6 pathway can occur through different mechanisms, including gene amplification/rearrangement, loss of negative regulatory factors, epigenetic modifications, and point mutations of different components of this pathway. Quite conspicuously, CDK 4/6 inhibitors have emerged as promising anticancer agents in various tumors in which CDK 4/6 has a pivotal role in the G1-to-S-phase cell cycle transition. The clinical use of first-generation, nonselective pan-CDK inhibitors was not progressed beyond early phase trials, due to unacceptable toxicity and lack of efficacy noted with these agents. The emergence of selective CDK 4/6 inhibitors, including ribociclib, abemaciclib, and palbociclib, has enabled us to effectively target cyclin D-CDK 4/6 pathway, at the cost of acceptable toxicity. The results of landmark Phase III trials investigating palbociclib and ribociclib in advanced hormone receptor (HR)-positive breast cancer have demonstrated a substantial clinical benefit with a well-tolerated toxicity profile. Mechanisms of acquired resistance to selective CDK 4/6 inhibitors are beginning to emerge. Clearly, a detailed understanding of these resistance mechanisms is very much essential for the rational development of post-CDK 4/6 inhibitor therapeutic strategies. Extending the use of selective CDK 4/6 inhibitors beyond HR-positive breast cancer is a challenging task and will likely require identification of clinically meaningful biomarkers to predict response and the use of combination approaches to optimize CDK 4/6 targeting.

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